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Photo: Axios Screenshot

Health care systems must ensure that patients are not putting off in-person care due to fear of contracting coronavirus, Tuhina Neogi, chief of rheumatology and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, said Wednesday during an Axios virtual event.

The big picture: The pandemic put patients severely behind in doctor's visits and their ability to manage chronic pain. Earlier in the year, patients were too afraid to seek treatment and were experiencing "diminishing quality of life" even in urgent instances, Neogi added.

  • "Health care systems are going to have to be nimble in making sure the safety of patients, health care providers, trainees, staff, etc., are all considered at the same time to ensure that we provide the care that’s needed for patients," she said.

The state of play: Hospitals have improved pre-screening patients for COVID-19 upon visiting and have enacted social distancing and hygiene protocols, but ramifications of managing chronic pain often affect those who systemically lack resources.

  • "[S]ystemic inequities have a higher proportion of chronic comorbidities, which themselves are accompanied by higher risk of chronic pain. Just historically people of color have had their pain less aggressively managed than people of white backgrounds," Neogi said.

Quick take: The coronavirus pandemic has been a trigger for those managing chronic pain, Randall Rutta, CEO and president of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, tells Axios' Mike Allen.

Photo: Axios screenshot
"These individuals are really stressed out [during the pandemic] and that stress in and of itself has exacerbated their pain and their conditions with autoimmune disease. So many conditions where people’s bodies are struggling against them in many respects."
— Rutta tells Axios

What to watch: Rutta said there are several non-opioid medicines are on the horizon to help patients with autoimmune diseases.

Watch the Axios event live.

Go deeper

Oct 29, 2020 - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Oct 30, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus surge threatens to shut classrooms down again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The nationwide surge in coronavirus cases is forcing many school districts to pull back from in-person instruction.

Why it matters: Remote learning is a burden on parents, teachers and students. But the wave of new infections, and its strain on some hospitals' capacity, makes all forms of reopening harder to justify.

Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president"

Michael Caputo. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In September, Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo privately pitched one branch of the agency's $250 million coronavirus ad campaign with the theme: "Helping the President will Help the Country," according to documents released by House Democrats on the Oversight Committee on Thursday.

Why it matters: These are the latest documents that suggest the deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response.